It’s been an amazing year. A year ago February I decided to accept the challenge of moving across country to step from the safety a public school teaching job to try something new: teaching a masters level course at a new online program in Florida. I looked at my life in Southern California, having no permanent ties, save my siblings and nephews and nieces, and decided that I needed to make this change, to take my gifts and skills to the next level. It was a logical choice. But it also meant that I was permanently closing the door on a relationship that I’d been unsuccessfully pursuing over the past five years. I could either take this job or I could stay in California, woeking as a largely thankless classroom grunt waiting for a relationship that might never become what I wanted it to become. The choice was pretty logical. But I was also walking away from something that I had defined myself by. I’d poured everything I could into this. This was who I was. This was who I wanted to be with. I felt connected in a way that I couldn’t explain, yet it had somehow completely failed when it came to what she needed at the time. So I left and shut the door to that part of myself.
Then as I began to build my life here in Florida I grappled with how I would express my relationship to God, The problem was that this was something that I had re-discovered in my life because of the power of the relationship I’d just left. It was something we shared. It was something that seemed real because of the power of the love I felt for her. But given the ease with which all of that just went away without a single tear shed, I was left to think that that relationship had been largely in my own head, and this led me to question what else might have largely just been in my head.
It’s not so much that because I didn’t get what I wanted, I was just going to stop believing. But given how much I had opened my heart to the possibilities, only to be set aside and rewarded with the sound of silence and a completely affection-less life, I lost my certainty and thus another way that I had defined myself by slipped away. Another door closed in my life.
So this brings me to this past week. i had just returned from a great trip to Washington DC.
I was just getting to the point where I felt comfortable with my new cadremates, after having been away from the doctorate program for three years. Then when I got back from DC I received the letter from Pepperdine telling me that the Educational Technology Doctoral (EDET) Program committee had met and decided that my time at Pepperdine was done. In a nutshell, I’d requested for an incomplete for a research course so that I could get further along with my research and have something to write for my chapter 2 and chapter 3 of what would become my dissertation. The course professor felt that I didn’t deserve an incomplete and that I should just retake the whole course when it was next being given. Alas, this meant getting an “F” for the course which would mathematically drop me below the required B+ GPA to stay in the doctorate program. The committee agreed with the professor and now I’m no longer connected with Pepperdine. I knew for some time that this was going to happen, but getting the “disenrollment” letter very much left me with an unsure sense of self. More than just another door closing, having suffered the loss of these defining aspects in my life over the past year, I was losing track of who I was.
The irony of this was that my last conversation with my good friend Dr. Sparks in DC was about me having greater vision for myself beyond being the guy building PCs, blogs and websites for others and taking my own vision for myself to the next level. Other cadremates in DC were meeting with their senators and representatives and agencies and national policy makers while i was struggling to maintain some sense of self. Dr. Sparks had no way of knowing that the hammer was about to fall on my career at Pepperdine. Also a bit upsetting was that I knew how other doctoral students in my program had spectacularly failed (for example, showing up for the end of program oral comprehensive exams unprepared and rip-roaring drunk… twice), I knew that a different choice could have been made. But my path was apparently meant to take me in a different direction. Things could have been different, but I alone was responsible for things not turning out as hoped for.
As the days have passed I wish that I could confidently agree with my friends and advocates that this change is for the good, that something better is going to come from this. But the sound of so many doors closing tends to undermine any sense of confidence or promise. I just know that it’s a waste for me to remain a candle hidden under a bushel basket. It’s not much to go on, but it’s better than assuming that I am now whatever I was meant to be or that the best days are in the past. I refuse to believe that. jbb